My concept of life is quite simple really.
I was raised for many years in a caravan/trailer, and therefore have no problems with people living in caravans/trailers. I later got to know people in rental houses and even a few who owned their own little home, and they were alright as well. People in really huge houses were very different!
Our “dress code ” was relatively standard. In my early days it was short pants and blazer school uniform; dress pants, shirt and tie years later for work. I had no problems with other kids who wore a school uniform, but those who went to school in jeans and sloppy tops were a bit of a challenge. Likewise those who worked in casual clothes or greasy coveralls!
As an adult, my town was a predominantly English population, but did have a significant Italian, Indian and Pakistani contingent. They were all part of our “streetscape” and were part of my life. When a few people of African origin moved in, things were different. When a Chinese factor was introduced into the mix, it became even more “different”.
Where am I going with this? Well it seems to me that my comfort level is directly related to what I am familiar with. No surprises there eh! Children can be forgiven for many things but, as adults, we have the ability to recognize our flaws. We then have to make the conscious decision to address said flaws…….. or not.
I firmly believe that I am very open minded about life in general and, at my age, I am glad that is the case because it means that I have learned something over the years! It never ceases to amaze me however, how much blatant discrimination (loosely disguised as personal preference) there is in the world over a whole range of issues.
Some of you will know that I volunteered in Toronto East General’s Crisis Intervention Unit for around 2-1/2 years, and the many people that I saw during that time period were all failing to cope with some issue(s) in their life and, in general, had no perceived support. i.e. they were either directly rejected, or simply ignored (which was much the same from their perspective).
I remember one evening that a man was brought in. He had a severe relationship breakdown and was really not coping at all. He saw no future and was therefore at a high risk of hurting himself (or worse). It soon became apparent that the relationship was unusual and it turned out that he was involved in a love triangle, with all three participants being male. Watching that man in tears while he tried to explain the rejection he had experienced, was no different from watching a woman much later describe her husband leaving her for another woman.
There was one big difference however. Society accepts that heterosexual couples may have affairs which destroy the relationship, and most “injured parties” will find support and understanding. A man who has been rejected by another man is more likely to attract ridicule (based on ignorance) than emotional support.
While our comfort levels are obviously established from our upbringing and our life in general, they are simply comfort levels and nothing more. We should recognize their shortcomings as such and be receptive to expanding our comfort levels.
People in large houses can be really nice. People who work in jeans and tshirt, or greasy coveralls, could well be the shoulder you need to cry on one day. Those people who look different and are having language difficulties are really no different to us. They have issues similar to us. Teenagers around the world are …….. teenagers, regardless of outward appearance!
As for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Trans-gender (LGBT) individuals? It really does not matter whether we can understand their situation or not; It really does not matter whether our belief system rejects such orientation; What does matter is that for them, their particular orientation is their comfort level, and if we are as understanding, compassionate and open minded as we think we are, we should get our head around the fact that our comfort level needs to be expanded by as much as possible so that all humans can be dignified as such.
This Post is dedicated to J.